Life on the road has a way of inducing a merry-go-round of emotions, and Eleanor Underhill knows this ride all too well. A touring musician for years with her previous bands and as a solo artist, she’s felt the burn of the road, and the moments of satisfaction. It’s this constant state of flux that Underhill reveals on “Didn’t We Have Fun?”
“This song reflects upon my personal ups and downs of being a touring musician, ultimately asking, didn’t we have fun?” Underhill tells American Songwriter. “The verses offer vignettes of shared experiences with my musical partners as well as private moments of reckoning. My emotions and perceptions were bubbling up in sometimes contradictory ways, where I felt satisfaction, impatience, freedom, confinement, pride, misery, and gratitude all at once.”
Off Underhill’s second solo album, Land of the Living, “Didn’t We Have Fun?” is touring tale told in a steady synthesized motion, complete with hand-clapped melodies, dynamic harmonies—and even a glimmer of Underhill’s signature banjo—all closing on a communal chant of Didn’t we have fun? Didn’t we love the road we were on?
When recording the track, Underhill says that drummer, JC Mears, and the bassist Jesse Gentry didn’t hear the song prior to playing it. The end result is a track that came from a purely improvisational place, says Underhill.
”I wanted to capture their raw and immediate musical reactions to the layered synth and vocal tracks that I had created,” says Underhill. “The result is exciting and fresh. Jesse and JC play in The Get Right Band, and their connected musical intuition is apparent.”
On Land of the Living, Underhill, who is a multi-instrumentalist that eventually landed on the banjo, explore more keyboard and synth arrangements. “I have more experience, matured ears, and a greater desire to create music that is relevant and forward-pushing” says Underhill.
For “Didn’t We Have Fun?” Underhill also pulled in her boyfriend Silas Durocher, guitarist, singer and songwriter, and member of The Get Right Band and Lovestruck Suckers, in addition to her mother, who was her earliest inspiration performing a repertoire of old English folk songs while working at Colonial Williamsburg. “I also always love featuring my mom in my work,” says Underhill, “and you can hear her singing backup on the outro chorus, along with my boyfriend.”
Sure, it’s not all fun and games on the road. On “Didn’t We Have Fun?” Underhill prefers focusing on the positives.
“In hindsight, I really want to think back in fondness of our unique experiences together,” says Underhill. “At its heart, this song is a confessional and a celebration.”